Snowfall hampers profits for contracted snow removal companies
Fixed-price contracts can mean absorbing losses in extreme winters
The layer of snow that has blanketed the province hasn’t necessarily meant more money for Halifax’s snow clearing contractors.
Rob Hamilton and his crew from Grading Space Landscaping keep only about 10 per cent of their winter business commercial.
The fixed-rate contracts mean no matter how much snow or ice has to be clear, the price remains the same.
“I'm really glad we didn't take (more) contracts because I'd probably be losing my shirt this year,” he said.
The remainder are private residences who pay on a per storm basis.
For others who bid for Halifax Regional Municipality contracts, such as Daren Tracey, sometimes those fixed-price contracts means absorbing any losses.
His company, Tracey’s Landscaping, is contracted by the HRM for sidewalk clearing.
“We got dinged this year and we're paying the price for it but hopefully next year we'll have another mild winter,” he said.
The company uses projections from past years when placing their bids, but harsher weather this year has made it especially hard.
Sidewalks, however, only make up part of the family business, and their saving grace this year may be from commercial contracts, which are capped at 200 centimetres.
That means any snowfall over that amount could be charged more per centimetre.
Tracey however has accepted the risk when your work relies closely on Mother Nature.
“Can’t control it...it’s like going to the casino,” Tracey said.